Messer Marco Polo
And one dusk the moon rose over the Chinese garden, and Marco Polo finished
telling her of what John saw on Patmos and he an old man. . .
"'Veni, Domine Jesu.
"'Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen!'"
"It is very difficult, Marco Polo. I don't quite understand."
"I don't quite understand myself, Golden Bells. But that is all I can tell you. But
you will understand more," he said. "My mission is finished now, and I will go
back. I will stop at the court of Prester John, and he will send a bishop surely or
some great cardinal to baptize you and to teach you the rest."
"You will go back?" A great pain stabbed her. "I never thought, some how, of you
as going back."
"I have come on a mission, Golden Bells, and I must go back."
"There is a woman, maybe, in Venice -- " And she turned her head away from
him and from the moon.
"I would not have you thinking that, Golden Bells. There is none in Venice has
duty from me. And if the queen of the world were there, and she pledged me, I
could never look at her, and I after knowing you, Golden Bells!"
"Is it money, Marco Polo?" she whispered in the dusk. "It is maybe your uncle
and your father are pressing you to return. Let you not worry then, for my father
the great Khan will settle with them, too. There is not a horse in all Tartary that
your uncle cannot have, nor a woman, either. And your father can have all the
jewels of the treasury, and all the swords, too, even the sword with which my
father conquered China. My father will give him that if I ask. Only let you not be
leaving this moonlit garden."
"Dear Golden Bells, it isn't that; but I came here for converts -- "
"Oh, Marco Polo, listen! There is a folk at Kai-fung-fu, and they are an evil folk
and a cowardly folk, and my father abhors them. I shall ask my father to send
captains of war and fighting men to convert them to your faith, Marco Polo, or lop
off their heads. And we can send a few hundreds to the Pope at Rome, and he
will never know how they were converted, and he will be satisfied. Only let you
not be going away from me in my moonlit garden. You will only be turning to